As the year winds down and we prepare to celebrate the arrival of 2020, we took a look back at what we accomplished this year (spoiler alert: It’s a lot!). In 2019, CLiF held roughly 900 literacy events – including storytelling/author visits, family literacy dinners, writing workshops, field trips, and book giveaways – with attendance of more than 45,000 children, and gave away approximately $750,000 in new children’s books!

Here are a few CLiF highlights from 2019:

New Programs!

We added a “Momentum” grant option for our past At-Risk Children partners (e.g. childcare centers, afterschool programs, refugee/immigrant programs, affordable housing communities, etc.) to keep up their literacy momentum. Past partners chose to bring authors back to the program and give new books to the kids they serve.

Singer/songwriter Jon Gailmor leads a 3-day Songwriting workshop in Richford, VT

We added a new cartooning workshop with the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction to the options for our Community Building grant, which also supports Reading with Seniors programs, 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, and songwriting with Jon Gailmor.

A note from an incarcerated mother to her child in the new book she chose

We also added a new prison to our Children of Prison Inmates program, the women’s prison in Concord, NH, bringing the total of partnering prisons in NH and VT to five. In 2019, roughly 3,500 new children’s books – hand-selected by parents – were sent home to kids with a parent in prison. Thanks to a successful Giving Tuesday campaign, we raised more than $2,000 to give these kids additional books for the holidays at the prison’s family holiday events.

Based on feedback from educators, we created two videos on literacy training, one for families (below) and one for early childcare providers. We’re piloting a project to hold training video viewing parties for childcare providers in the Upper Valley of NH/VT, complete with refreshments and new books. (Do you work at a childcare center or home daycare in the Upper Valley? There’s still time to apply for this program!)

New Presenters!

Author Sandra Neil Wallace talks to a camper at the Green Mountain Girls Camp in Dummerston, VT (A CLiF 2019 Summer Readers partner)

Several talented authors, illustrators, and poets joined the CLiF ranks this year, including Christy Mihaly, Gina Perry, Lindsey Stoddard, Chris Tebbetts, and Sandra Neil Wallace! We now have more than 65 Vermont and New Hampshire presenters we send to schools, libraries, afterschool programs, childcare centers, shelters and affordable housing communities, and other sites where low-income, at-risk, and rural kids in NH and VT spend time. Our presenters have won the NCTE’s Orbus Pictus Award, children’s choice awards in Oregon and Hawaii, and the Caldecott, to name a few.

Conferences!

We held our annual free Community Literacy Conference at Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, VT, open to all educators working with our past, current, or incoming Year of the Book schools. CLiF presenter Jon Gailmor led more than 150 educators in writing and performing an original song about literacy! CLiF presenter Natalie Kinsey-Warnock shared family artifacts that have inspired her books and her Storykeepers genealogy program. New Year of the Book school staff learned tips for making the most of their grant from past grantees and had educators from across both states had a chance to network with each other. Plus, lots of free books (as always)!

We also held our semi-annual Rural Libraries Conference at the Hotel Coolidge/Briggs Opera House in White River Junction, VT. More than 80 libraries from across both states came for a full day of panels and workshops, including Slam Poetry with CLiF presenters Geof Hewitt and Rajnii Eddins, a discussion on Drag Queen Story Hour and LGBTQ+-friendly programming, and building inclusive and sensory spaces for all ages. And, of course, free books!

Our Tried & True Programs

In addition to all the exciting new stuff that happened this year, we also kept our regular programs running smoothly.

Author Christy Mihaly talks to enthusiastic students in Enosburg, VT

The Year of the Book served schools in Barton, Barre, Enosburg, Hartland, and Washington, VT and Bridgewater, Claremont, Hinsdale, Keene, and Laconia, NH with author visits, fun events, special literacy-themed programming, new books for the school and community, and 10 new books for each student! NH and VT schools are encouraged to apply for next year’s grant – apps due January 29!

Through our Rural Libraries program we brought storytelling, programming mini-grants, and lots of new books to libraries in Alstead, Campton, Chichester, Franconia, Lincoln, and Northfield, NH, and Bondville, East Warren, Newfane, Pawlet, Post Mills, and Stamford, VT. Applications for next year’s Rural Libraries grant are also available now through April 29!

Storyteller Simon Brooks in action at Fairgrounds Elementary School in Nashua, NH

Our At-Risk Children program served 20 sites this year, bringing storytelling, family discussions on reading, an onsite library, and two new books for each child to choose to each partner. At-Risk partners included childcare centers, afterschool programs, migrant programs, homeless shelters, museums, and English Language Learner programs, among others (we’ll be announcing our Spring 2020 partners soon!).

Thanks for helping make this a great 2019 for CLiF! We look forward to even more reading and writing fun in 2020!

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